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Pony.ai agreed to issue a recall on some versions of its autonomous driving software following a car accident that occurred in October 2021. The company recalled the now repaired vehicles because they used software associated with the crash.
During the October accident, a Pony.ai vehicle hit a street sign on a median during a turn in Fremont, California while in autonomous mode. No one was injured in the incident, but it prompted the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend the company’s driverless testing permit.
While there are plenty of crashes reported involving autonomous vehicles, this one stood out because the vehicle was operating in autonomous mode and didn’t involve any other vehicles.
According to reporting from Reuters, Pony.ai said that the crash occurred less than 2.5 seconds after the autonomous driving system shut down. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) told the company that it believed the software had a safety defect, which lead to the requested recall.
Pony.ai complied with the request and updated the software in the three vehicles. According to the agency, this is the first recall of an autonomous driving system.
Pony.ai received its autonomous driving permit from the California DMV six months before it suspended it. At the time, Pony.ai was the eighth company to receive the permit, after Apollo, AutoX, Cruise, Nuro, Waymo, WeRide and Zoox.
Earlier this month, Cruise and Waymo received Drivered Deployment permits from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The permit allows the companies to charge customers fares for their services. The permits require both companies to have a safety driver present in the vehicles at all times.
This week, Pony.ai announced that it is now valued at $8.5 billion dollars after the first close of the company’s Series D funding round. The company ended its last funding round at a $5.3 billion valuation.
Pony.ai plans to use the funding to further augment hiring and enter more strategic partnerships. It also plans to invest in research and development, including global testing of its fleet of robotaxis and robotrucking and moving closer to mass production and commercial deployment of its fleet.
The company did not disclose details on the amount raised in the funding round so far, but plans to announce totals when the full round closes.